The 26th edition of the Giro Rosa was action-packed and drama-filled until the final kilometre. There was a bit of something for everyone with a prologue, time trial, flat stages, lumpy stages and two summit finishes. We saw nine different stage winners over ten days and four different riders don the beautiful maglia rosa. Every day was something different and offered a new reason to fall in love with women’s cycling – and the cast of characters that make the professional side of this sport so much fun to follow.
My personal highlights include: Megan Guarnier’s stage win, six day stint in pink and Boels-Dolmans defence of her race lead, Mayuko Hagiwara’s historic stage six victory and her Wiggle Honda teammates pride and joy in sharing in the moment with her, Annemiek van Vleuten (Bigla) and Anna van der Breggen (Rabo Liv) delivering on their pre-race favourite status – with van Vleuten winning the prologue to pull on the first maglia rosa and van der Breggen blitzing the field in the stage eight individual time trial to assume the race lead. Beyond the racing, I loved discovering all the small moments riders racing the Giro chose to share with us and other reporters, photographers and on their personal social media accounts.
We were lucky to work with Balint Hamvas throughout the Giro Rosa. We shared a handful of his stunning images in our daily race reports and rider diaries. Below we share the rest – with a stage-by-stage recap of the 2015 Giro Rosa.
Annemiek van Vleuten (Bigla) time trialled to victory on the opening stage prologue of the 26th edition of the Giro Rosa. Having won the Giro Rosa prologue the previous year and the Euskal Emakumeen Bira prologue in June, van Vleuten, known for her prowess in the short individual efforts, started the stage as the outright favourite.
The Dutchwoman covered the two-kilometre course in Ljubljana, Slovenia on Friday in a time of 2:49.64 to beat out Rabo Liv pair Lucinda Brand and Roxanne Knetemann. With van Vleuten’s prologue win came the the maglia rosa, the coveted pink jersey awarded the overall race leader.
Barbara Guarischi (Velocio-SRAM) won the first road stage of the 26th edition of the Giro Rosa on Saturday. The Italian sprinted to victory in Ljubljana, Slovenia ahead of Lucinda Brand (Rabo Liv) and teammate Tiffany Cromwell (Velocio-SRAM)
With the bonus seconds Brand snagged at the stage one finish, coupled with her performance in Friday’s prologue, the Dutchwoman moved into the overall race lead, taking the maglia rosa from overnight leader and compatriot Annemiek van Vleuten (Bigla). Guarischi, who scooped up ten seconds on the line, jumped up to second overall at four seconds while van Vleuten fell to third on the general classification at five seconds.
Megan Guarnier (Boels-Dolmans) won stage two of the Giro Rosa from an elite group of eight riders that took shape over the climbs and descents that punctuated the second half of the stage. The American played off a late race attack by teammate Evie Stevens – employing a similar strategy to the one the pair used to net Guarnier her second national road title last May. With the stage win, Guarnier moved into the race lead, pulling on the iconic maglia rosa. Anna van der Breggen (Rabo Liv) edged out Ashleigh Moolman-Paiso (Bigla) for second place on the stage.
The heat wave sweeping across Europe meant for another steamy day in the office. A technical finish capped off a relative flat stage, which at 135 kilometres, was the longest of the tour.
During the first three stages of the Giro Rosa, Lucinda Brand (Rabo Liv) twice finished second. On stage three Brand finally climbed on to the top step of the podium. The Dutchwoman was quickest from the nine-rider breakaway that formed just after the day’s only categorised climb. Italians Valentina Scandolara (Orica-AIS) and Elena Cecchini (Lotto Soudal Ladies) rounded out the podium.
The nine-rider escape group was a mix of overall contenders, domestiques and small-group sprinters. Brand, who wore the maglia rosa on stage two, is expected to support her team’s overall ambitions while Scandolara and Cecchini pack a punch in the sprint and have team approval to chase stage wins. The podium trio was joined up the road by Ella columnist Loren Rowney (Velocio-SRAM), Giro Rosa overall winner (2009) Claudia Lichtenberg (Liv Plantur), Malgorzta Jasinska (Alé Cipollini), Chiara Pierborn (Top Girls Fassa Bortolo), Davia Tuslaite (Inpa Sottoli) and Mayuko Hagiwara (Wiggle Honda). The nine came to the line 1:15 ahead of the peloton.
It was an all Italian podium on stage four of the Giro Rosa.Annalisa Cucinotta (Alé Cipollini) proved quickest in Pozzo d’Adda, besting Marta Bastianelli (Aromitalia-Vaiano) and Elena Cecchini (Lotto Soudal) to the line. Australia’s Tiffany Cromwell (Velocio-SRAM) was best of the rest in fourth place.
Lizzie Williams (Orica-AIS) went on the attack yet again – but this time she had company as German national time trial champion Mieke Kroeger (Velocio-SRAM) joined Williams up the road. Soon Valentina Bastianelli (Inpa Sottoli) bridged across and Silvia Valsecchi (Bepink Laclassica) joined to make it a leading group of four.
A number of additional riders tried their luck at jumping across to the four-rider escape, but none proved successful. The quartet would gain a maximum advantage of 2:19 with around 45 kilometres remaining in the 103 kilometre stage.
Alé Cipollini and Wiggle Honda assumed responsibility for the chase inside the final hour of the race. Twenty-four kilometres from the finish, the peloton had shut down the day’s break.
Megan Guarnier finished safely in the bunch and extend her time in the maglia rosa. The top of the general classification remained unchanged following the sprint stage. Guarnier closed out stage four with a two second advantage over Anna van der Breggen (Rabo Liv) in second. Ashleigh Moolman (Bigla) sat in third at five seconds.
World champion Pauline Ferrand-Prevot (Rabo Liv) soloed to victory atop Aprica on stage five of the Giro Rosa. Three kilometres from the top of the first summit finish of the 26th edition of the Italian Grand Tour, Ferrand-Prevot made her race winning move, following an attack from Francesa Cauz (Alé Cipollini). Cruz was unable to match Ferrand-Prevot’s pace and was swallowed up by the reduced peloton before the line. Ferrand-Prevot narrowly managed to hold off the chasers.
One second later, race leader Megan Guarnier (Boels-Dolmans) beat out Anna van der Breggen (Rabo-Liv) in a rare mountaintop field sprint. Pocketing an extra six seconds for second place, Guarnier’s sprint earned her a few precious seconds for the overall classification. The American closed out stage five with five seconds on Anna van der Breggen and 12 seconds on Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (Bigla).
Mayuko Hagiwara (Wiggle Honda) became the first Japanese rider to win a stage of the Giro Rosa on Thursday with a stunning solo victory into Morbegno. The five-time Japanese national road champion launched a bold attack on the last of three climbs, riding alone for nearly 30 kilometres before soloing across the stage six finish.
Twenty-four seconds following Hagiwara’s historic accomplishment, Megan Guarnier (Boels-Dolmans) brought home an elite chase group of 10 riders. Pocketing six bonus seconds for second place on the stage, Guarnier again increased her lead in the overall. The American headed into stage seven with 11 seconds over Anna van der Breggen (Rabo Liv), who sat in second overall. Ashleigh Moolman (Bigla), who finished third on stage six, maintained her hold on third overall at 14 seconds down.
Lucinda Brand (Rabo Liv) added a second stage win to her name in the 26th edition of the Giro Rosa, soloing to victory in Loano. Sixty kilometres from the stage seven finish, Brand attacked out of the select maglia rosa group that formed on the day’s first climb. The Dutchwoman built up her advantage to nearly three minutes, ultimately crossing the finish line 2:41 before second place.
Maglia rosa wearer Megan Guarnier won the sprint for second from a group of six that included Rabo Liv teammates Anna van der Breggen and Kasia Niewiadoma, Wiggle Honda teammates Mara Abbott and Elisa Longo Borghini, and Ashleigh Moolman (Bigla). Finishing second for the third straight stage, Guarnier again extended her overall lead before the all-important individual time trial on Saturday.
The American headed into the final weekend of racing with a 16-second lead over Moolman, who jumped up to second overall thanks to bonus seconds earned with her third-place finish on Friday. Van der Breggen dropped down to third overall at 17 seconds.
Anna van der Breggen (Rabo Liv) produced a commanding performance on the stage eight individual time trial at the Giro Rosa on Saturday. The Dutch national time trial champion stopped the clock at 36:05 following the 21.7 kilometre effort, 1:03 faster than pink jersey wearer Megan Guarnier (Boels-Dolmans). Ashleigh Moolman (Bigla) was third quickest over the lumpy effort with a time of 1:16.
Van der Breggen’s stage win catapulted her to the top spot on the general classification by 46 seconds over Guarnier, who had worn the maglia jersey since stage two. Moolman, who started the day second overall, drops down one spot to third place in 1:15.
Two-time Giro Rosa overall winner Mara Abbott (Wiggle Honda) soloed to victory up to San Domenico di Varzo on Sunday on the final stage of the 2015 Giro Rosa. Abbott last won on the San Domenico climb two years ago – en route to her second overall win at the Italian Grand Tour. Abbott’s stage win atop San Domenico this time around saw her leap up the general classification from fifth to second overall at the 26th edition of the Giro Rosa.
Resplendent in pink, Anna van der Breggen (Rabo Liv) reached the summit nearly one minute behind Abbott. With Abbott starting stage nine 2:30 off the race lead, van der Breggen’s final performance was enough to secure the maglia rosa that she had pulled on following her win in the time trial the previous day. Crossing the line, Van der Breggen knew she had won it, and she celebrated with a smile and a fist pumped in the ear.
Trailing van der Breggen by 18 seconds, Flavia Oliveira (Alé Cipollini) was the next to reach the ski resort, rounding out the stage nine podium. Megan Guarnier (Boels-Dolmans) and Ashleigh Moolman (Bigla) came to the line together with the American besting the South African for fourth on the stage. Following her six-day run in the pink jersey, Guarnier finished third overall and Moolman was pushed off the general classification podium by Abbott’s leap onto it.